c. 1300, "hostility, malevolence; a hostile action," from Old French iniquité, iniquiteit "wickedness; unfavorable situation" (12c.), from Latin iniquitatem (nominative iniquitas) "unequalness, unevenness," figuratively "unfavorableness, unfairness, injustice," noun of quality from iniquus "unjust, unequal; slanting, steep," from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + aequus "just, equal" (see equal (adj.)).
For the vowel change in the Latin compound, see acquisition. Meaning "evil, wickedness" is from late 14c. Old Iniquity (1610s) was a comic or buffoonish character in old morality plays, representing vice.
updated on November 30, 2015